Academic Study, creative writing, Creativity, doctoral deadlines, Doctoral misery, PhD completion, thesis writing, Time management

PhD on Board: the agony of the final trimester

IMG_3490I can’t sleep. I dream about the chapter I have just written.

People have started asking for advice – on starting their doctorate. To them I seem like a –sort of – old hand now. They want to do one, but where?

Wait – where have I had these experiences before? Oh yes, when I was pregnant. As a mother of two teenage boys, it has been awhile, but it is coming back to me. The anxiety of the final few weeks before birth. Getting advice from everyone, women desperately wanting to be pregnant asking me for advice on when to have a baby and what’s it really like?

The end of a doctorate is just like the end of a pregnancy – the sleeplessness, the anxiety, the all-consuming nature of it. Then there is the sinking realization that you alone are going to have to birth this baby. And it keeps getting bigger and bigger the less time you have.

My supervisor sends me an email. “You’ve put on too much weight!” (Actually, what she said was – “it’s too long!” But you get the picture)

When you are pregnant, it’s a sad fact that people rarely give up their seat on the train for you, but everyone has advice on what you should or should not eat or drink, and especially what to call the baby.

So it is with the doctorate. “What are you doing reading the paper – why aren’t you studying?” or “you can’t have a glass of wine! What are you thinking – you have to hand in soon.” Or “You are calling your exegesis – what?!”

I am taking two week’s leave from my day job at the gallery before my due date. I know the drill. At the last stage, there is no sleep, just swollen ankles, exhaustion and pure fear. Luckily, just as mother nature takes over in pregnancy and washes your brain with hormones that render you somewhat numb to the impending total eradication of your former life, it’s the same with the doctorate.

But this time, what floods your body is adrenalin. It washes through your blood with copious amounts of coffee – like a runner’s high. It’s the result of those endless sessions at the desk, those late nights, those editing sprints and rewrites that give you study high. Or at least that inspired, slightly crazed state that searches for the 4 am miracle. Usually, at 4 am.

A writer I know with a doctorate that’s at least 10 year’s old, almost finished primary school, really, nodded sagely as I related this state of anxiety to her the other day.

“Yes, I remember,” she said, gently. In the same way I’d tell a heavily pregnant woman I remember what it was like. You never forget.

Then she added, “you know once you hand in, it just goes away – all the pain, it just goes…”

Yes – that’s just what they say about labor.

Ah – the actual birth. For women who have been there, a collective shudder. And for those about to hand in their doctorate – nothing is birthed without pain, be it a doctorate or a child or a work of art. At the end, it’s all intense focus and draining, hard yakka.

But just as there is a support team for birth, there is one for the birth of a doctorate. I am so grateful for how people have pitched in to help and offer emotional and practical support. It’s like a collective group around me urging me to – push!

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Here are five reasons why birthing a doctorate is like birthing a baby:

1. Women about to give birth say and do some really, really stupid things. This is a true story.

Just before the birth of my first child, I rang the labor ward and asked a nurse what sort of reading material did she think I should pack? Did she think that I should start off with say Margaret Atwood, then progress to genre crime and onto chick lit and finally, a range of magazines from Vanity Fair to the trashy women’s mags? Her reply:

Nurse: Ooh…so you think you’re going to be reading? (gales of laughter)

And it’s the same with the doctorate. You are too distracted to do anything else. Forget multi tasking. The cat and dog brought in a rat the other day. It has taken up residence under the couch. It comes out to saunter around when I am proof reading. We look at each other. It goes back under the couch. My kids scream and ask me what I am going to do about it. I said “think of a name for it”. What’s the worst that can happen? Plague?

2 There are many forms to fill in. There are forms that were filled in at the beginning of the PhD but have to be filled in again, or are they different forms? Wait, some forms were missed at the beginning, or did they change at the middle? Forms must be sent to the right place at the right time. The website says “It is your responsibility to ensure all forms are completed and correct and done at the right time.” Hospitals are like this. You can’t even get an epidural without filling in a form and by the time you need one you’d sign your firstborn away to aliens. No wonder people freebirth. What’s my course code again?

3. Women are very competitive about birth. Pregnancy is a whole competition in itself. It’s worse after the birth. Men might compare cock size, women compare length of labor, scars, stitches, pain. Don’t even get me started on competitive breastfeeding. PhD students are the same. Who worked longest, latest, hardest, had the least sleep, the biggest bibliography, quoted the most journal articles, had the longest footnotes. 

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4. Conflicting advice Being overwhelmed by conflicting advice is what happened when I was pregnant with my first child. By my second pregnancy, no one bothered to give me advice. Why? I knew all the secrets.

I suspect those doing a second doctorate never get unsolicited advice, either. People just walk away and shake their head, muttering “don’t they know the world has too many doctoral submissions as it is? What about global warming and the environment and overcrowding in the academic job market?”

5. Nothing fits – you’ve grown too big. Everyone, even supermodels, look like they have swallowed a fridge in the weeks leading up to the birth. This is what it is like with the doctorate. Sure, in the early stages, it’s all small bump and looking cute in that outfit, right? Yeah, and your exegesis was small and manageable at the start as well, wasn’t it? The first year of the doctorate is like a babymoon. Then, once the reality sinks in, you wonder why you ever got up the duff with a doctorate in the first place.

In the last trimester, nothing fits – into the word length. You have too much information, too many footnotes, references, ideas and – stuff.

You know what women worry about before they give birth? How are they going to push out something that big. You know what PhD students worry about before they hand in? The same thing. 

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Academic Study, Chimeras, creative writing, doctoral deadlines, Doctoral misery, horror, PhD completion, science fiction, Writing strategies

Chimera or hybrid? The pain of naming the monster

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There is a flip side to having a hottie research topic that I hadn’t really considered until now. When you research monsters in SF, it’s such a fascinating subject that everyone wants in.

I am investigating the scientifically created animal-human chimera in science fiction and while that is a mouthful, it is necessary to state my parameters even in casual conversation. Because, believe me, everyone has an opinion on what I am doing, and how I should be doing it.

For a start – is it a chimera, or a hybrid?

I spent this weekend at a writing masterclass and needed to justify my decision to call the “manufactured monster” – the human-animal created by science -– a hybrid, rather than a chimera.

In my creative writing exegesis, I justified the term “hybrid” to describe the creature resulting from the scientific fusion of human and animal, rather than “chimera”. Why?

Chimera refers in popular language to mythical creatures and monsters, and in Greek mythology chimeras were fire-breathing creatures composed of the parts of multiple animals.

In scientific practice, there is no universal definition of a chimera. There are many groups in different countries involved in producing definitions for these new human-animal mixtures in science and the terms are debated (Hinterberger 2011).

So, I opted for the term “hybrid” to rule out any allusion to mythology that may be caused by the word “chimera”.

Hybridity is also a term used in literature and cultural studies and is understood to contest hierarchical binaries of nature/culture, self/other, male/female, human/nonhuman. (Heffernan, 2003) Also, Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto (1985), that I am using as methodology, challenges such binaries.

But it got me thinking.

Not the least because the person questioning me was a very experienced author with a formidable track record and extensive background working in the scientific area in just this field.

At lunchtime, over a salad, she told me about what goes on inside an Animal House and the scientific labs, because she’d been in them. She’d helped design them. And she said, “I’m telling you, the correct term is chimera, not hybrid.”

Sigh. I had just written several paragraphs in my exegesis introduction as to why I had chosen to call the creature a hybrid. Not to mention the four years of drafts and hundreds of thousands of words that described my research into the human animal hybrid in SF.

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I should be pleased that those I meet are even remotely interested in a research area that has consumed me for nearly five years. I mean, I can (understandably) see people’s eyes glaze over as I speak about my research. But just as it is impossible to read every journal article and every book on a subject, it is also impossible to keep up with everyone’s suggestions.

And by everyone, I mean everyone. This colleague’s point was valid, and had me hit the search and change function on all my files. From now on – it’s chimera, bot hybrid!

But what do you do with all the other comments? From the other school mum in the supermarket checkout, to my hairdresser, the guy who fixes my car, my kid’s friend’s parents – even my kid’s teenage friends – they all want in.

And just like being pregnant, and having to put up with advice from strangers, it becomes harder to hear the closer you are to your due date.

I am now 7 weeks from handing in my PhD. At this teary stage, I am fragile and sleep deprived. I guess I am gestating an exegesis and novel. That’s like – well, carrying twins!

If I was doing what many consider “serious” research – by that I mean something in engineering, science or computing that few have any understanding of let alone the vocabulary to speak about it – then I guarantee I wouldn’t be getting all these well meaning comments and advice. Even from a lot of academics.

However, I work in the humanities, and everyone feels free to wade in with an opinion. Especially as I work in SF and popular culture and you can’t swing a cat without coming into contact with images of the post human. All around us are films, computer games, television series and books that feature the augmented human, human hybrids/chimeras, and enhanced humans. From the most recent version of Total Recall, to covert operatives, chemically enhanced and physically and mentally uplifted in the latest installment of The Bourne Legacy, not to mention the cool and sexy Swedish drama Real Humans, depictions of humans changed by science are all around us.

I suppose over the years I have also become more confident in speaking about my research, and like a woman in love, I can’t stop dropping my beloved’s name every opportunity I get. Human-animal hybrids! Um, Chimeras! Monster Theory! My enthusiasm must be contagious, because it seems that everyone now feels an expert in my area. Some recent comments:

  • “Surely you mean chimera, not hybrid?”
  • “Have you watched The Blob?”
  • “What about Beauty and the Beast?”
  • “Why Frankenstein? He wasn’t an animal hybrid, was he?”
  • “Why not mythological creatures?”

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  • “What’s your opinion on The Centipede, anyway?”
  • “Aren’t you disgusted researching bestiality?”
  • “Is zoonosis about – zoos?”
  •  “How as a feminist can you include a misogynistic movie like Splice in your exegesis?”
  • “Why haven’t you considered aliens in your research?”
  • “What about Cordwainer Smith’s works?”
  • “I’d steer clear of Lacan if I was you.”
  • “Have you considered another expert in narratology?”
  • “I would really be looking at Deleuze and Guattari at this point.”

Of course, I get more and more paranoid that I haven’t considered all the above, and why not? With only 7 weeks to go before I hand in my PhD, how could I have missed any vital areas in my research?

I am not sure what the answer is. Learn to ignore everyone? Say, actually, Frankenstein’s creature was created from parts of the dead and animals? “The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of  my materials…” (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.) My bold.

All I know is there is more pain ahead before I complete.

Oh, and it is chimera now – not hybrid!

Academic Study, creative writing, doctoral deadlines, Doctoral misery, PhD completion, Time management, work-work balance, Writing strategies

Lean In: Getting your PhD fast, focused and finished

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Are you Leaning In? Or Falling Over? Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto for women’s career success has angered as many as it has inspired. But her advice can be applied to finishing your PhD, if you have the determination.

Lean In, Women, Work and the Will To Lead the controversial new book by Sandberg, the Facebook Chief Operating Officer, advises women not to get a life, but to focus as hard and fast as they can on their career.

The big lesson of Lean In is don’t pull back and don’t hold back for lack of confidence. Men Lean In, women traditionally wait to be asked. Men go for it, women go slow. But Sandberg said the only way to get ahead is to Lean In. And she has set up a “global community”  to help women do just that.

If you are a working mother, and have actually been leaning in and just got to the point of falling over and are still not a board member somewhere, well, according to Sandberg, it might just be your fault. Maybe you need more advice!

With this in mind, and given I have now seven weeks to go until I hand in my doctorate, here are my Sandberg inspired tips on how to Lean In to doctoral completion.

10 Tips for Leaning In to Doctoral Completion

  1. Bum on Seat. You have to put in the time. Time, time, time. And more time. Get a comfortable chair. And get up every hour and have another coffee. Or your body will seize up. Australian author, the late Bryce Courtney, said when writing his first book he got his wife to tie him to his chair and desk with a length of rope. It’s a good idea. (Fifty Shades of PhD anyone?) Lean In hard, just don’t forget to sit upright occasionally, or you will fall over.
  2. Unplug the Internet. Okay – Sorry Sandberg, but to Lean In, you have to Lean Out of Facebook! Sure, you can plug it back in, but it’s like that fat photo you put on the fridge. The one that makes you go – “maybe not”. Or better still, you don’t buy crap for the house anyway. Likewise, there’s no idle net surfing. You surround yourself with text books and journal articles and print outs of your exegesis only. Sure, it’s boring. People who only munch on carrots and obsessively work out in the gym are boring. But it gets results. You have to be as obsessive as someone in training for a marathon or skinny jeans. Be as smug and self satisfied as them. Lean In!
  3. Take leave from your day job. My nagging PhD student brain whispers: ‘No sitting on any beach for you, swot. You have work to do! Lean In’ I am rationing out all my leave and taking it in as many week long bursts as I can in the lead up to handing in the PhD. Again, see boring. You are boring. Get over it. You have a deadline. Of course it’s about delayed gratification. The only thing you can’t delay is the deadline. Luckily, my career has been in print journalism, and The Deadline was the driving force of my work life. Journalists flounder without a deadline. A deadline galvanizes them into action. The profession has come in for much criticism of late, but an ability to get the job done to deadline is something that every hack can be proud of. They know how to Lean In. Well, until the deadline…
  4. Decline all offers of social activity. Let’s face it, at this point, you are good for no one. You are boring, your company sucks. And no one got to be a success like Sandberg, or finish their doctorate, by doing frivolous things like socializing. Besides, all you do is talk about your exegesis. Seriously, you are better off staying at your desk and putting in the words. Anyway, you can’t drink, it slows your brain down. You can’t afford to take your foot off that pedal (you have to Lean In). Just say no. This is how much I say no – the last face to face conversation I had with someone I wasn’t related to or worked with was when I bumped into the partner of a close friend while waiting for a delayed train. I told him to say I was Leaning In, and I’d be in touch with her in 9 weeks.
  5.  Don’t cook. I burnt precooked bread rolls the other day by warming them in the oven and then going to check a reference in a book. My boiled eggs could be used as medieval weapons of torture. My coffee is over brewed. My only advice at this point is reheat and buy pre-made. And get the kids to fend for themselves. Tell them mummy is Leaning In! If you have a baby or toddler and are completing your PhD, you obviously come from a different planet of super women and I have no advice for you. See if you can be a Lean In Community mentor. You are already Leaning In!
  6. Exercise. Okay, so this may seem counter intuitive, as I have just said focus, focus, focus on your work, but here is the thing – exercise makes your body and brain go faster, and it clears out the cobwebs. After sitting at my desk all day, or going to work, then coming home and then hitting my text books, exercise acts as way of clearing out one way of thinking before I tackle the other. A blast of David Bowie’s new album The Next Day while briskly walking the streets with the puppy puts us both in a good mood. As Carrie Fisher once famously wrote “Do it for the endolphins”. A better way to Lean In while exercising is to do it whilst listen to podcasts of academic lectures. You have been advised.
  7. Get away from your desk. Mix it up. You can Lean In anywhere as long as you are working! If it is sunny but not unbearable (Australia has had a record breaking summer) I will head outside and sit in the shade and edit my work for an hour, just to get a change of scenery. Likewise, taking the notebook around the house can be an idea, unless like me you have children and pets underfoot who become noisy and demanding when they finally see you have emerged from your cocoon. They will start wanting things like affection and attention, not compatible with the Lean In Lifestyle so time it when they are playing multi-level user games on Skype.
  8. Accept the pain. No one did a PhD in one hundred days. You start, you work, you put in, you Lean In, but at some point, when the end is in sight, you just have to deal with the reality – it’s bloody hard! This is when you really have to Lean In Hard. You need to work-work-work and focus. You need to stop doing everything else and work even more. This sage advice from a friend is tapped to my computer screen – it’s basically a Lean In Mantra; “the mountain never seems as impregnable as when the climbing actually starts. Only conviction and persistence can now drag the dream into existence: this is a fight you are going to win, but not without some degree of pain.” So true.
  9. Embrace – gratefully – any offers of help. Hopefully you will emerge from this final sprint with body, mind and soul intact and be able to reciprocate in the future, but if any of your smart, gorgeous and kind friends in academia offer to do a beta read for you, say yes! Even if you secretly fear that what you write is a load of rubbish. Remember Sandberg’s warning – women suck at self confidence, men aren’t afraid of putting it out there, even if they secretly think they don’t have what it takes. So Lean In, and hand over the work, suck it up and accept advice. And don’t overlook your junior IT department, either. Women with a scrap of sense who have children would have been letting them have the sort of free reign to technology that would make the Facebook team envious. Embrace your kids’ IT support. And if you breakdown crying after a virus corrupts days of work, feel reassured they’ll at least realize  nothing worth achieving comes easily. And it will make them feel even prouder for helping you salvage your files.
  10. Have a (better) reward system: We swots are pathetic about this. A fellow traveller posted on Facebook that she was going to reward herself after a hard slog of study by going out and sitting in a library and reading Kant. I make such bargains with myself; if I finish writing a chapter, but a certain time, I will print it out and take it to the funky new café that’s surprisingly opened in my very suburban neighborhood.  And I will do my editing there. Note – I did not say I would meet a friend, or read a magazine, or anything like that. That’s not how you Lean In. Your rewards are the sort of boring rewards that fitness obsessives have. The only way to have your cake and eat it too is with a red pen in your hand and your exegesis covered in crumbs. What sort of reward do you think you’ll get from Leaning In? A date with Kant is as good as it gets. There is no such thing as a free lunch, or easy ride. Lean In – and enjoy!
Academic Study, Smarty Pants Women, work-work balance

International Women’s Day – Celebrating Smarty Pants Women

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Today is International Women’s Day and I am celebrating Smarty Pants Women. It’s a phrase actor-writer-college student Justine Bateman uses on her blog for women who have gone back to university as an adult.

Hey – that’s me. It might be you, too.

As well as casting light on positive achievements, International Women’s Day acts as a reminder of the continued gender inequality around the world. Case in point – all the talented women sneered at by Academy Awards host Seth MacFarlane in his musical skit “I Can See Your Boobs” just recently.

I could write about Seth’s appalling song and dance number, but others have done this very well.  As Jamie Lee Curtis pointed out in  “And the Oscar goes to…Hell” “I am sorry that this is what we are talking about and not Argo’s lovely win or Jennifer’s amazing performance or Daniel’s eloquence and humor and grace or the fallout from the sequester.”

I say let’s talk about the wonderful way of karma, and how Adele took out the Academy Award for best song (Skyfall), even though Seth was nominated. Ha! “I can see your pout, Seth.”

And let’s celebrate Smarty Pants Women who have made successful careers in industries that privilege appearance, but opted as well to extend their minds and education anyway. Here are five examples, and to them I say:

 Happy International Women’s Day, Smarty Pants Women.

Justine Bateman 

I searched out Bateman in the first place because she was in a 2006 Canadian made for TV movie called Hybrid, a movie about xenotransplantation. She’s in my doctoral research material!

Bateman, College Freshman at UCLA, is a writer, producer, actress, director, and founding partner of FM78.tv, a production company focused on the future of entertainment. She testified at the Senate Commerce Committee about Net Neutrality (IMDb, 2007).  

The former Family Ties actress has a great roll call of “Smarty Pants Women” on her blog. This inspired my own title for this blog. Bateman defines Smarty Pants Women as those who embrace College Life when they aren’t the accepted College Age.

What I enjoyed reading in Bateman’s blogs is that she has worked in an industry that has seen profound changes. Entertainment, and the Hollywood factory, has undergone the turmoil that has seen my old alma mater, print journalism, reinvent itself.

Bateman has turned to university to keep ahead of that reinvention curve. Whether you are undergoing doctoral study, any academic study, or just on the path to reinvention in your careers, there’s something to be said for reading about someone’s else’s journey.

Lily Cole

Okay, Cole may be a lot younger than the others in this blog, but she deferred her place at Cambridge twice while she carved out a hugely successful modeling career for herself, with work for all the leading fashion houses including Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Louis Vuitton.

Then, while studying History of Art at Cambridge University, the British model spent three years juggling her studies with modelling and acting assignments (filming for her debut in Doctor Who during her revision schedule). Cole aced a double first class degree, which are only awarded to those who gain top marks in their first and final year exams. As The Daily Mail commented “Most jet-setting supermodels barely have time to do their own make up let alone sign up for a full-time university course.”

Cole is now acting full time, after juggling modelling and Hollywood. (Snow White and the Huntsman).

Eva Longoria

More than a Desperate Housewife, Eva Longoria received her Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University-Kingsville and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Chicano Studies at California State University – Northbridge. Her thesis is on Latina Entrepreneurs and Latina leadership, with a focus on women.  In January, The Wall Street Journal profiled her rise as an influential Hispanic activist and power player in Washington, D.C.

Christy Turlington

The ’90s supermodel graduated cum laude in 1999 from New York University (NYU), where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy. She received her Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University when she was forty. Today, Turlington serves on the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, and as an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors. She is the founder of Every Mother Counts, a campaign to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world.

Sophie Ward

Actress Sophie Ward (Land Girls), in her mid forties, is doing a PhD on the narrative of thought experiments (which she calls a meeting of philosophy and literature), with classes at Goldsmiths University in London. She is studying part time while acting, writing a crime novel and raising children, but goes to classes once a week alongside students in their twenties. Not surprisingly she reveals she is quite disciplined.

She is quoted as saying: “I won’t use my Doctor title when I get my PhD. That’s just not the done thing in Britain, is it? “I did play a doctor in Heartbeat and I still have people come up and say ‘I wish you were my doctor’.”

I say, go for it. Copious use of Dr as a title once you get your PhD is surely no different from wearing revealing clothes. If you’ve got it (intelligence and education) then flaunt it!

 

Academic Study, creative writing, thesis writing, Time management, Writing strategies

Writing Boot Camp with PD Martin

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Nothing happens as a writer unless you are actively writing. Australian crime author PD Martin, whose first five crime novels have been published in 13 countries, extols the virtues of writing 10,000 words a day.

She teaches intensive writing workshops around the country providing theoretical and practical tips to writers to improve their skills.

While Seinfeld might have created a 365 day wall calendar to jump start his own literary output, PD Martin regularly takes up the 10K a Day challenge.

It’s a good lesson for those struggling with their doctoral writing.

The 10 K a Day is the writer’s equivalent to Boot Camp; the mental version of sickening repetitive pushups and laps around the oval pulling a car tyre. Forget washboard abs – you’ll come away, however, with a novel in a very short amount of time. Or, indeed, a good chunk of your thesis written.

PD Martin has just emerged from an intensive year of moving into ebooks, with five new releases under her belt, including true crime, two young adult novels writing as Pippa Dee, for which she has a separate website, and Hell’s Fury  the first book in a new series.

It’s tempting to imagine she has all the time in the world to write, while doctoral students have to make do with scraps left around research, teaching and paid work.

The Australian author, however, speaks from experience when she talks about time management.

“When I was writing the first two Sophie Anderson books, I was working three days a week with reasonable, guaranteed pay and the other two days I dedicated to my creative writing,” she said.

“I made sure that I kept 9 am to 6 pm office hours with a 40 minute lunch break, and also worked five hours on Saturdays.”

With this disciplined regime, PD Martin finished a novel in six to 12 months “writing to a deadline, bum on seat.” However, after she became a full-time mum, her writing time dwindled dramatically. Around this time, she heard of the 10k day and with a deadline looming she gave it a whirl. She was amazed by the results.

The 10 K a Day Rules

The 10 K a Day effort is achieved in four blocks of two hour writing bursts with a 10-15 minute break in between each two-hour block.

PD Martin explained the rules – don’t stop to research, turn off the grammar and spell checking programs and don’t re-read a single word that you write.

“This is the most important part. When you stop and re-read what you’ve just written, you’re stopping your writing flow and listening to your critical brain,” she said.

“With the 10 K a Day program, you make a commitment to stream of consciousness writing, and understand that the editing process is where the critical aspect comes in.

“This approach is especially good for dialogue and for progressing the plot. Even if you only stick to the regime for one 10k day a one month in addition to your normal writing regime, it makes finishing a novel achievable in a short amount of time.”

It is interesting to hear PD Martin speak about a “writing regime” as this is what separates serious writers from those who dabble. Treating writing as a job means daily commitment.

Especially if you have a doctoral deadline, when you need to reach that word count.

“It’s so easy to find excuses not to write,” PD Martin says. “You think, oh, I need to work on the plot, I need more research. While these things are essential, it’s also important not to use them as a barrier to actually finishing that novel.”

Another general writing tip from PD Martin was about when to finish work for the day/session.

“Never finish your writing session at the end of a scene/chapter. Even if you only write one paragraph of the next scene/chapter, make sure you have something to go on with the next day. That way you’ll be less likely to have writer’s block.”

Read about how PD Martin creates and promotes her brand as a writer